Office of the University Ombudsperson

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Academic Integrity

Our office acts as a source of general information for students and faculty on matters pertaining to the academic integrity policies and procedures of the University, faculties, and schools.

The Senate policy on Academic Integrity Procedures - Requirements of Faculties and Schools outlines certain procedural requirements of Faculties and Schools, including the essential requirements of any investigation into an academic integrity concern, while also providing guidance regarding jurisdiction, offences, and sanctions.

Each Faculty is responsible for developing their own procedures for handling academic integrity concerns including the essential requirements of any investigation into an academic integrity concern, while also providing guidance regarding jurisdiction, offences, and sanctions. Students, staff and Faculty should therefore familiarize themselves with their own Faculty policy.

 

Process for Potential Departures from Academic Integrity

Responding to a Notice of Investigation (242KB | PDF)

Don’t panic! When an instructor sees evidence in a piece of work that suggests that a departure from academic integrity may have taken place, it is the instructor’s responsibility to investigate the situation. The following chart outlines the general process for handling potential departures from academic integrity. 

Potential issue comes to the attention of Instructor; Instructor is responsible for initiating investigation and assembling evidence

The instructor will assemble all documents related to the issue to begin investigating a possible departure from academic integrity. Documents might include:

  • The work submitted by the student for academic credit
  • The source(s) from which the work submitted by the student is apparently derived
  • The instructions describing the nature of the work to be done
  • Any email between instructor and student relating to the work
  • Any documents used by the instructor or his or her department stating policies on departures from academic integrity
  • Written statements from witnesses and any other materials related to the alleged departure

If the instructor decides that the evidence is insufficient to proceed with further investigation, all documents related to the allegation should be destroyed. If the instructor decides that the evidence merits further investigation, they will continue with the process.

Written notice including evidence provided to student from instructor (Notice of Investigation Form)

If an instructor decides that the evidence merits further investigation, the next step is to bring the matter to the student’s attention through the faculty specific Notice of Investigation Form. The Notice of Investigation allows you to be an active participant in the process by providing you an opportunity to write a response or schedule a meeting with your instructor (generally within 5-10 days of receiving the Notice of Investigation Form). In either case, you need to respond to your instructor, otherwise, a decision will be made without your input. Here are some other tips to keep in mind at this stage:

  • Don’t panic – we know that receiving this type of notice can be extremely upsetting
  • Anyone who receives a Notice of Investigation is expected to participate in the process
  • The process is meant to be a learning experience, rather than punitive
  • The written response or meeting with your instructor is an opportunity for the instructor to hear your side of the story
  • Review and ensure you understand the academic integrity policy for your own faculty (see the list to the right) prior to the Notice of Investigation meeting
  • Be aware of all deadlines and meeting dates
  • Review the support services outlined on our resources page (ie. Empower Me, Therapy Assistance Online, Good2Talk)
Instructor & student meet to discuss what happened

Students usually have the option of providing a written response or meeting directly with their instructor. Whether meeting in person or responding in writing, you need to provide the instructor with a detailed explanation of your side of the story. Here are some tips to keep in mind at this stage:

  • Include how the information in question came about, and your line of thinking in preparing the work the way you did
  • Provide copies of earlier drafts of your work or other relevant documentation
  • You can prepare something in writing to leave with your instructor
  • You may find it helpful to bring notes with the key points you want to cover 
  • Be clear, concise, and honest and clearly explain what happened
  • It is appropriate for you to ask what sanctions your instructor may be considering
  • To accompany you to the meeting, you may invite an advisor such as a friend, family member, advocate, support person of your choice, or legal counsel

Keep in mind that many investigations are resolved at this early stage. You may also want to consider reviewing our tip sheet on “Meeting with your Instructor.”

Instructor assesses all information & makes decision. Two outcomes: Student is found responsible for a departure or not responsible.

After the instructor has reviewed the available evidence as well as your explanation, they will make a decision (typically within 14-21 days of meeting with you).

There are typically two outcome options:

  1. Finding of no departure from academic integrity: If the instructor is satisfied with your explanation and determines that there are no grounds for a finding of departure from academic integrity, all documents related to the case will be destroyed and the instructor will inform you that the investigation has been dropped.
  2. Finding of departure from academic integrity: If the instructor believes that there is evidence that a departure from academic integrity has taken place, the instructor will make a finding of departure from academic integrity and will also determine an appropriate sanction or remedy. Up to this point, a record of previous departures from academic integrity is not relevant in making a finding of a departure from academic integrity.
If no departure - process ends (finding of not responsible, no sanction assigned, documents destroyed), or if departure - remedy or sanctions imposed

Where there is a finding of departure from academic integrity, the instructor is expected to assign an appropriate remedy or sanction that reflects the extent and severity of the departure. This will be communicated to you in writing, typically through a Report of a Finding of Departure from Academic Integrity Form.

You can also expect the instructor to contact your Faculty Office to determine if there have been any previous departures from academic integrity. In the case of a second finding, or multiple findings, a more severe sanction may be warranted.

The following are the admissible sanctions from the Senate Policy on Academic Integrity Procedures (PDF) that may be applied, in any number and/or combination as deemed necessary. It is appropriate for you to ask in your Notice of Investigation meeting what sanctions your instructor may be considering.

  • Issuing an oral or written warning
  • Completion of an educational program/workshop
  • Requiring submission of a revised or new piece of work
  • Assigning a partial or total loss of marks on the piece of work
  • Assigning partial or total loss of grades in the course
  • Requiring withdrawal from the University for a specified period of time
  • Rescinding of a degree
  • Making notations on the Internal Academic Record or Official Transcript in keeping with current policies in this regard
Appealing an Academic Integrity Finding and/or Sanction

Students can appeal the finding and/or the sanction. Appeals will be heard in the Faculty/School where you are registered, in accordance with the Senate Policy on Faculty Jurisdiction with Respect to Student Appeals of Academic Decisions.

  • If you're appealing a decision made by an instructor, it will be appealed to the Faculty/School representatives designated for hearing appeals (e.g., an Associate Dean).
  • If you're appealing a decision made by the Faculty/School representative, it will be appealed through a committee established by the Faculty/School.
  • If you're appealing a decision made by the committee established by the Faculty/School, it will be appealed to the University Student Appeal Board (USAB).

Review and ensure you understand the appeal process within the academic integrity policy for your own faculty (see the list to the right).

*The above information has been adapted from the Academic Integrity @ Queen's website, along with the Smith School of Business Academic Integrity website and the Faculty of Arts and Science Academic Integrity website.